Parents and caregivers play an absolutely crucial role in teaching kids about puberty, especially because things like sex education and menstruation education are “seriously lacking” in schools, experts warn. They’re conversations that should start young — and happen often.
But unfortunately, many parents didn’t grow up having these types of talks in their homes, which can make broaching this with their own kiddos challenging and uncomfortable.
The 12 books on this list tackle a broad range of puberty-related issues, from the biology of particular changes to issues like body positivity and consent. They meet kids where they’re at developmentally, from preschool to tween-dom. And, crucially, they’re way less corny than the scant offerings that were available to many parents when they were kids.
Read these books aloud together, or — depending on your child’s age and reading ability — pass them back and forth, letting children mark passages where they have questions or read something they’d like to talk about.
Remember: If one conversation doesn’t go well, or if you feel like a particular book didn’t resonate with your child, just try again. As Vanessa Bennett, founder of Dynamo Girl and author of the Uncertain Parenting Newsletter, previously told HuffPost: “The most important thing is that these are conversations that have no judgment.”
Puberty Is Gross But Also Really Awesome
Penguin Random House
This funny, straightforward new book (which will be published in late March) delves into everything from periods and voice changes to tween-specific mental health. It’s a great resource for middle schoolers who are right in the thick of it all. (Available here
It’s So Amazing!
This much-beloved book, which has been around for decades, offers kiddos age 7 and up plenty of in-depth information about big topics, like puberty and reproduction — and reviewers have noted that it brings a genuine sweetness
to these big topics. (Available here.
A Kids Book About Body Image
A Kids Book About
Body image is a huge part of puberty, and studies unfortunately show that body dissatisfaction is rampant among adolescents. This book about body image gives younger kiddos (age 5 and up) a great grounding in appreciating just how awesome our bodies are. (Available here.
What Makes A Baby
This fun, simple book by sex educator Cory Silverberg — recommended for preschoolers up to 8-year-olds — gives kids important and inclusive basics on conception and gestation. (Available here.
Sex Is A Funny Word
This comic book, also written by Cory Silverberg, is for slightly older kiddos (think ages 8 to 10) and helps parents and caregivers teach children about bodies, gender and sexuality. (Available here.
Guy Stuff: The Body Book For Boys
Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson is a renowned puberty expert (and the author of “Decoding Boys: New Science Behind The Subtle Art Of Raising Sons”). This book offers advice for boys about everything from nutrition and voice changes to acne. (Available here.
Celebrate Your Body
If you’ve got a girl age 8 or older at home, and you’re interested in giving her a body-positive book that will also help her understand the changes headed her way, consider this thorough guide which helps demystify the process. (Available here.
The Every Body Book
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
This wonderfully inclusive book, for kids between 8 and 12, teaches children about relationships, sex and gender — and also provides resources for parents as well, as they brush up on their own knowledge and understanding. (Available here.
Sex Positive Talks To Have With Kids
Sex Positive Families
Written by renowned sexuality educator Melissa Carnagey, this book helps families create open, judgment-free spaces in which they can dive into some pretty meaty conversations — and learn from each other about everything from media literacy to porn, and how those all tie into puberty today. (Available here.
Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent And Respect
This book does what its title promises: facilitates important questions about body boundaries, consent and respect, starting when kids are young (like, preschool age and up). (Available here.
Have a fan of graphic novels at home? This comprehensive comic book helps tweens and teens grapple with everything from crushes to boundaries and consent. (Available here.
Hair In Funny Places
Red Fox Books
This book helps kiddos who might be a few years away from puberty (like 7-to-9-year-olds) get a sense of what’s headed their way, and tackles it all with a sense of humor that helps normalize the process. (Available here.